[News] Argentine ex-dictator gets life for murders
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Dec 23 10:52:14 EST 2010
Argentine ex-dictator gets life for murders
23/12/2010 - 08:10:23
Former Argentine dictator Jorge Videla was
sentenced to life in prison for the torture and murder of 31 prisoners in 1976.
It is the first conviction for the military junta
leader in 25 years of democracy in the country.
Videla, 85, who led the military coup that
installed Argentinas 1976-1983 dictatorship, was
considered the architect of a dirty war that
eliminated 13,000 people in a crackdown on armed
left-wing guerrillas and their supporters, according to an official count.
The 31 prisoners were pulled from civilian jails
and shot while trying to escape as the military
consolidated its power in the months after the coup.
Videla claimed Argentine society demanded the
crackdown to prevent a Marxist revolution, and
complained that terrorists now ran the country.
Videla must serve his sentence in a civilian
prison, the judges decided, ruling out the
privileges he enjoyed after he was first
convicted of crimes against humanity in 1985, as
Argentina was struggling to return to democracy.
Videla served just five years of a life sentence
in a military prison before former president
Carlos Menem granted him and other junta leaders amnesty.
After a concerted campaign to reform Argentinas
judicial system and replace dictatorship-era
judges, the supreme court overturned those
amnesties in 2007, and current president Cristina
Fernandez has encouraged a wave of new trials of
former military and police figures involved in
the clandestine torture centres where thousands
of the regimes opponents disappeared.
This was the first of dozens of trials coming up for Videla.
He was among two dozen defendants most of them
former military and police officials charged
with torture, murder and cover-ups in the deaths
of the 31 political prisoners in provincial Cordoba.
Also sentenced to life was former General Luciano
Benjamin Menendez, who directed the early war
against leftist subversives across much of northern Argentina.
Just before he was sentenced, Menendez said it
was historically revisionist to present armed
leftist groups as passive victims with no responsibility for criminal acts.
The Montoneros and the Peoples Revolutionary
Army were already committing violent acts before the coup, he told the judges.
They were combatants who took on certain risks,
Menendez said. Its not a crime against humanity to fight an armed combatant.
Videla and Menendez accepted responsibility for
the crackdown but claimed they had to act as they
did to prevent what they considered would be a
greater tragedy the transformation of Argentina
from a conservative Christian society to a Marxist state.
Ricardo Alfonsin, whose late father, President
Raul Alfonsin, helped put Videla and other junta
leaders on trial 25 years ago, said such
arguments were meaningless coming from men who lack all moral authority.
Videla represents the most absolute evil, Mr
Alfonsin who created the Never Again commission
that documented thousands of crimes against humanity - told Radio Continental.
It was Videla, Mr Alfonsin said, who ordered
them to torture, who ordered them to rape, who
ordered them to kill or who tolerated them doing all of these aberrant things.
About 13,000 people were killed or disappeared
during the dirty war, according to a government
count. Human rights groups estimate the figure is actually 30,000.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the News